Tiger is not bigger than game of golf

TIGER WOODS’ life and reputation lie in tatters.

Only the misguided have the remotest sympathy for a man who has so badly let down all those closest to him and golf fans throughout the world.

Even if he was a single man, his actions would be reprehensible. For a man blessed with a beautiful wife and two gorgeous children, to carry on as he has while all the time portraying a squeaky clean image is beneath contempt. Some role model indeed!

Well done to his sponsors Accenture, Gatorade and Gillette. They got out as quickly as possible and who could blame them?

The man’s own words have damned him. Initially, he admitted to “transgressions”. Now that has changed to “infidelities”. He tried to brazen it out hoping the media would move on to the next story if he stayed silent long enough. But they stuck to their guns and eventually Woods had to own up through brief statements on his website.

Not a murmur of protest or denial was heard when claims by a number of mistresses of long-term relationships and one-night stands emerged. The figure grows by the day and unless we hear otherwise, the many unsavoury allegations can only be assumed to be well founded.

From the earliest days, Woods and his management company IMG decided that he should be wrapped in a cocoon and in a veil of secrecy. The media were to be kept as far away as possible. One-on-one interviews were rarely if ever entertained.

Even those few American journalists who cover the US PGA Tour on a weekly basis hardly ever bumped into him. Woods, you see, didn’t stay in hotels. Ever.

It had to be a private mansion with bouncers lurking at the gates to dissuade any would-be trespassers.

Then there were his press conferences. He would march to the media centre surrounded by security guards and IMG officials. Head down, carefully avoiding eye contact with all, he would sit at the top table, open a bottle of water, paint on as pleasant a visage as possible and then await the questioning with as patient a disposition as he could manage.

The answers were invariably dull. There was the odd time when he might elaborate but only if the point at issue appealed to him.

If a questioner crossed over a line that he himself had drawn, Tiger’s expression would darken and one of two things would happen. He would try to make little of the person involved and then leave time for the sycophants to titter and giggle in a mean attempt to belittle the poor guy.

The other response was just as bad. He would simply answer in a single word: yes or no.

And that was that. The glare from Woods told you the matter was at a close.

BECAUSE Tiger was Tiger, non-golfing journalists would turn up, especially on the major occasions like the Masters and the British and US Open Championships. And yet for almost 15 years, neither the regular golf writers nor the tabloid merchants ever laid a glove on the squeaky clean character that he and his minders had created.

All the time, though, he was living a lie. But then his world collapsed after a simple car accident.

An avalanche of revelations quickly followed and the game was well and truly up. What surprises me is that media people working week-in, week-out, with Woods knew so little about his private life.

No doubt, Woods has more to do right now than reading the newspapers or listening to the radio and television but wouldn’t you love to be present the first time he casts his eyes on the comments by, of all people, John Daly.

“You don’t stay married for the kids, you don’t stay married for the money, you stay married because you love each other,” said the man who to date has had four wives and who earlier in the controversy advised Woods to “above all, tell the truth.”

That wouldn’t be easy for anyone to take from a man of such dubious pedigree as John Daly.

For Woods, it would have been like a dagger to the heart.

As for those who maintain the game of golf itself and the television companies would never recover should he not return from his so-called “indefinite” absence, well, I don’t believe that will be the case.

Daly has said that “they always say there is no one bigger in the game than the game itself. But Tiger is.”

Nonsense, I say. Golf was there before Tiger Woods and it will be there after him as well. And a lot cleaner, too.

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